I almost had a meltdown over a bottle of apple juice.
Lunch was very late that afternoon, and I had already been feeling behind from the minute I woke up. The clock I was trying to beat all day declared its victory over me as I struggled to transition my kids out of “school and play mode” to sit down at the table for a hodgepodge meal I wasn’t particularly proud of.
Even though I had spent an hour before breakfast trying to catch up on laundry from the weekend, there were still three more loads in various stages of doneness. My efforts to teach that morning had been met with resistance and frustrations over seemingly small requests.
And then, then I couldn’t twist off the cap on the container of apple juice. As I stood there attempting to pry it open and trying not to become completely unglued in front of my children, I wondered, “Am I insane to educate these kids and disciple their hearts, while cooking, cleaning, blogging, laundering, and managing a household?”
That day it all felt so overwhelming. That day I didn’t feel like championing the cause of homeschooling.
I felt like giving up.
Home education is messy. It is dealing with and confronting the effects of the Fall head on, up close and personal.
There is no escape from the broken responses and broken relationships. No reprieve from the sinful, irritating, frustrating behavior my kids display.
I don’t need to watch the news to see the sinfulness of humanity. It’s displayed right here in my own home. His. Hers. Mine. Oh Lord, most of all mine.
Whether we’re homeschooling, or just at home with kids under the age of 5, sometimes it feels as though we are sinking more than swimming. We face brokenness keenly all day, every day.
Comparatively, it can seem far, far easier to send children away to be taught by others. It involves less time, less trauma, less turmoil.
Home education is definitely the “long way around”. In our culture, we want quick, easy, and most of all, painless. On that afternoon when I struggled with the apple juice and the pile of never ending demands, I wanted desperately to take a shortcut.
In Numbers 20:14-21 though, we find God leading the Israelites the long way around Edom on their way to Canaan. You see, if they had gone directly through that area, it would have meant fighting a battle against an enemy they were not ready to face yet.
Children need time to be nurtured, discipled, and matured before fighting battles against the darkness in the world. They need time to sink their roots deep down into the soil of their faith before combatting the pagan philosophies saturating our nation’s schools.
This can only be accomplished if we follow the pattern for raising children as outlined in Deuteronomy 6. In a society that has made it normal for parents to spend as little as 8 to 15 hours with their kids during the course of a school week, this is a radical notion.
Most of these hours are task-driven: getting homework finished, driving to practice, doing baths before bedtime, making meals, etc., and almost all of this time is also dominated by the use of devices and screens.
But with homeschooling, the parent-child relationship is one of overarching influence and time-intensive interaction– observing, teaching, correction, and encouragement. That relationship is characterized by loving care expressed through togetherness, affection, diligent discipline, and instruction.
Home education can certainly be demanding and inconvenient (the long way around). But resisting the way the world thinks and valuing things the world doesn’t value- this is warfare the way Christ fought.
So if it’s subversive, painful, and sacrificial, it’s supposed to be.
Because, really, as a mom you know that while there is pain and pushing through, there is also relief and joy when something new is born. If I would have given in that day and taken a shortcut through the good work of educating my children, I would be missing out on both the trials and joys.
Including that frustrating bottle of apple juice that nearly sent me over the edge.